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Previously on X-Men: The Making of an…
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Previously on X-Men: The Making of an Animated Series (édition 2017)

par Eric Lewald (Auteur)

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"In late 1992, on small budgets and under tight schedules, the cast and crew of X-Men: The Animated Series crafted a television show that, despite an industry full of naysayers, immediately shot to #1. This "kids' show" often landed more than half the TV viewers across America, and a twenty-year gold rush of Marvel motion pictures and TV series followed. Previously on X-Men is Eric Lewald's personal, inside account of how the series got on the air, the many challenges that were overcome, and how the show prevailed. The head writer interviewed 36 of the artists, writers, voice cast, and executives who helped make this game-changing series a worldwide success. This book is an authoritative look into the creation of the animated series that nobody expected to succeed. Lewald offers a unique behind-the-scenes look at the Saturday-morning cartoon series that changed Hollywood"--Back cover.… (plus d'informations)
Membre:MisterMeowzer
Titre:Previously on X-Men: The Making of an Animated Series
Auteurs:Eric Lewald (Auteur)
Info:Jacob Brown Media Group (2017), Edition: Unabridged, 450 pages
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Previously on X-men: The Making of an Animated Series par Eric Lewald

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Eric Lewald’s Previously on X-Men: The Making of an Animated Series focuses on the behind-the-scenes efforts to translate Marvel’s Uncanny X-Men and other related titles into a compelling animated series for the Fox Kids network that was faithful to the source material while also meeting the requirements of animated television. In modern television parlance, Lewald served as the showrunner on the series and had contact with all the major people involved in its making, giving his insights an added weight. Additionally, he has comments and reminiscences from others involved at the network, at Saban Studios, at Marvel, and at Graz Entertainment. Lewald traces the series from greenlight through scriptwriting, casting, merchandising, meeting episode orders, and so on. Other sections include an in-depth look at “Nightcrawler” as an example of the entire process for crafting an episode; a list of the literary quotes the writers used for Beast and their sources; talks with cast, crew, writers, and executives; and a look at the series’ legacy.

Looking back on the series, the most enduring thing is how it struck the right tone so that it offered something for all ages. This quality, above all others, contributes to X-Men: The Animated Series’ enduring legacy. Lewald describes the industry perspective of the time, writing, “Child psychologists swear by their fees that the young must be coddled and narrowly written for. Producers, TV network executives, and advertisers, who can never predict success, grasp at any straw of advice about what might make a show more ‘kid-relatable.’ Well-intentioned parents’ groups, attempting to shield their children from life’s extremes, press TV networks to grind anything exceptional or provocative out of their storytelling” (pg. 17). He continues, “Surmounting this challenge – telling compelling, action-packed stories with two arms tied behind our backs – was going to be tough, though in one case we were indeed lucky. Sidney Iwanter, the network executive in charge of the show, wanted to push the kid-rule boundaries. We writers had the example of the comic books to use as moral leverage (as in: ‘Your company hired us to do X-Men. Look at the action and attitudes in the books. What we’re asking for is mild by comparison’)” (pg. 46). Lewald pinpoints the writers’ and producers’ approach, writing, “A real key to keeping the drama boiling, without access to the compelling sex-and-violence elements that were denied to us, was that we cranked up the emotional intensity. We made our characters care desperately about each other and about the needs of the guest characters; we didn’t need nonstop action, even for the younger viewers” (pg. 48). Finally, the writers and producers were able to address topics previously considered taboo for animation, like religion in “Nightcrawler,” though careful communication with the network, standards and practices, and their Marvel liaisons (pg. 123).

Lewald writes of the impact of X-Men’s first season, “Marvel Comics, which was starting to go through a business struggle that would tumble them into bankruptcy (late 1996) and a nasty takeover fight, had just been handed a money-printing machine to help keep them afloat. Merchandise poured forth” (pg. 96). Discussing their tone and focus, Lewald said, “The other challenge was creating drama for kids, because the context in which you and I have done almost all our creative work, is creating exciting television for children. With children there are rules, there are broadcast standards rules. Generally there’s no death, injury, sex, not much romance. You start with that, and you’ve just taken away most of what an adult show depends on for its drama.” Network executive Dave McDermott added, “We played for kids, but we played much older as well. At Fox, we noticed how huge the numbers we were getting from – I forget, 15-to-21 year olds, or something like that – that older demographic we looked to for selling ad space (for older products, like clothing). The reason we couldn’t do that is because we were sort of a separate affiliation from Fox Broadcasting. We would be taking away money from prime time essentially, we would be competing against them for that advertising dollar. We thought we should be advertising Levi’s and stuff like that during our ‘kids’ block but that was a no-go. The word from upstairs was, ‘You can’t sell to that demographic, it’s all cereal and toys’” (pg. 334).

Avery Cobern at standards and practices discussed some of the challenges of adapting comics material to animation, saying, “I had to give… notes like, ‘Now don’t kill anybody and don’t say you’re going to kill them, and you can have romance but you can’t have sex, and you can have costumes that are appealing but not slutty.’ Because I read comics, and they are so outrageous: All the women are Barbie-proportioned and scantily-clad. Well, X-MEN: TAS couldn’t do that, it was a kids show. I had one of those notes on Batman. ‘Put more clothes on her: Don’t let Catwoman look naked all the time.’ I made them put a belt on her costume because the model they sent me was a skin-tight thing… It looked like it was spray-painted on her and she was naked. Then there was the challenge of looking at the storyboards and trying to word the notes like: ‘I know you don’t intend for this woman to be topless in this scene, but…’ From my point of view, the hardest skill is trying to understand what you’re trying to accomplish in a scene, and then when I had a problem with doing it one way, trying to find another that would work for you, as well as for the network” (pg. 407).

Previously On X-Men: The Making of an Animated Series offers a great look at a series still held in high regard. Fans will delight in all the behind-the-scenes information, production art, promotional art, and details about how ideas and stories changed over time. Lewald brilliantly gets most of the original cast, crew, and studio heads involved so that he can offer the most in this book, making it something that will not only appeal to fans, but to scholars of television and animation as well. Several sections are particularly enlightening in this way and are worth including in college film classes. ( )
  DarthDeverell | Sep 27, 2019 |
It may not be very interesting to the uninitiated, but fans of the ‘90s X-Men cartoon will find the bevy of insider’s anecdotes astounding, and will be awash in nostalgia: it will truly feel like an insight into childhood. ( )
  Birdo82 | Feb 14, 2018 |
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"In late 1992, on small budgets and under tight schedules, the cast and crew of X-Men: The Animated Series crafted a television show that, despite an industry full of naysayers, immediately shot to #1. This "kids' show" often landed more than half the TV viewers across America, and a twenty-year gold rush of Marvel motion pictures and TV series followed. Previously on X-Men is Eric Lewald's personal, inside account of how the series got on the air, the many challenges that were overcome, and how the show prevailed. The head writer interviewed 36 of the artists, writers, voice cast, and executives who helped make this game-changing series a worldwide success. This book is an authoritative look into the creation of the animated series that nobody expected to succeed. Lewald offers a unique behind-the-scenes look at the Saturday-morning cartoon series that changed Hollywood"--Back cover.

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